“Wanting for Grace” by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee
The mist over the olive grove lifts through
the cypress trees and I can taste the olive’s
pungency, the heat rising off sunburnt twigs.
I yearn to drink. Fully awake, the sun spun out,
I step vigorously along the coastal road,
where the sea spits and the sunlight shimmers
on my arms in full swing. As I buy today’s sundries,
I become brethren to the landscape, not to
the tourists’ stores or the cyclist’s fumes
but to the Aegean’s fierce breath, hundreds of cobblestones
underfoot, the sun beating on 114 steps to heaven,
on the Greek woman’s flourishing
geraniums. I have planted myself where no one
will come for me. I might as well
wash my stoop, forage for herbs,
hoe the garden. I am drenched with the island’s
giving. Do not look for me. I am stumbling
up church steps, wanting for grace.
All eyes, once turned to me, look elsewhere,
the new tourist coming, the villager intent
to sell. Where are the saints painted
in the ancient Orthodox church? Why does
the village priest ignore me? Why does the breeze,
instead, take my arm, while the sea, if I let
it, would carry me to some distant destination?
All this, I contemplate. All this, I know
each morning when I rise alone and
the house rattles with the sun’s heat,
the mountain’s easy exhale, this life
far from complete.
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Donna J. Gelagotis Lee Artist Statement:
Donna J. Gelagotis Lee’s book, On the Altar of Greece, is the winner of the Seventh Annual
Gival Press Poetry Award and a recipient of a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award: Notable for Art
Category. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary and scholarly journals, including The
Bitter Oleander, Feminist Studies, The Massachusetts Review, The Midwest Quarterly, and
Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her website is www.donnajgelagotislee.com.